Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday January 1 2010
It`s a break from Premier League action this weekend as Fulham entertain Swindon Town in the third round of the FA Cup. With reduced admission prices and our visitors having sold approximately 6000 tickets it should be a cracking afternoon.
One of the negative aspects of playing a club from a lower division is the possibility of a cup upset. Over the years it has happened time and time again.
Our Australian keeper, Mark Schwarzer, on the official site, has warned of the dangers, remarking,
"League tables and form books go out of the window for this one. This is the FA Cup and anything can happen as everyone knows."
"Make no mistake we will not be under-estimating Swindon Town in any way and we will treat this game with the same importance as any other. On Saturday, its one team against another and this is the competition for upsets."
Come five o` clock Saturday evening we`ll know if we`re through or whether we`ve been humbled I guess.
With Fulham still reeling from the news that they may have to do without the services of John Pantsil for the remainder of the season, Roy Hodgson will be deliberating as to which eleven to start with. Does he go with his strongest available or does he mix and match with a degree of experience but the inclusion of a few fringe members of the squad.
Doubts exist about the fitness of Brede Hangeland so we may see another outing for the promising youngster, Chris Smalling. With Pantsil out injured, Chris Baird may be asked to fill in at right back or Stephen Kelly could, although naturally a left back switch sides. Or could this be the moment Fredrik Stoor`s Fulham career kicks off?
There`s also a possibility that Andrew Johnson may get his first start since his groin operation. Johnson made a brief appearance at Stamford Bridge on Monday and ma benefit from a start.
As for predicting a starting eleven, we`ll, due to the number of possible permutations this week, opt to give it a miss.
With his normal partner, Brede Hangeland, unlikely to play, the experienced defender will need to steady the defence in the even of a possible Swindon onslaught.
Danny Wilson brings his side to Craven Cottage as under-dogs and matters haven`t been helped by Southend United refusing to allow one of his strikers, Alex Revell, from playing. One of his other strikers, Charlie Austin is cup tied as well after having previously played for Poole Town in the competition this season.
Swindon currently sit sixth in League One, in the play-off places and will be looking for a cup upset. Vital Swindon tip Douglas as the player to watch so keep those eyes peeled and see what the Irishman is capable of.
So what form are the sides in as they approach the tie?
Fulham saw an unbeaten run terminated by Chelsea, on Monday, but were eight games unbeaten before that. At home the record is even better with Fulham not having lost for ten games at Craven Cottage, winning seven and drawing three.
Worryingly though, for those that follow trends, Fulham reached the quarter-final stages last season and but have this annoying knack of being knocked out in the third round every other season. Let`s hope this season is the one that breaks that sequence.
As for Swindon, Danny Wilson`s side have only been beaten once in their last eleven games. Unfortunately, the third round of the FA Cup seems to be a hoodoo for them as Swindon have not progressed into round four for fourteen years.
If we look at FA Cup encounters between the two sides we find that this is the fifth occasion we`ve been drawn against Swindon.
Those previous fixtures have seen Swindon win three and us one with the last crossing of the paths being in 1987 when we lost 1-0 at Craven Cottage.
Anthony Taylor, of Cheshire, will be the official in charge.
It`s the sort of draw that can either delight or give you nightmares. You can`t ask for much better than a home draw against lower league opposition but then the there`s always the possibility that it could be a banana skin of a tie. I`d hope that Roy and his players won`t take the opposition too lightly as anything other than a victory, at Craven Cottage, would be deemed to be not acceptable. I`m going for a comfortable afternoon with Fulham winning 3-0!
After the romance of the FA Cup, our Premier League programme continues with a visit from troubled Portsmouth, next weekend.
Date:Friday January 1 2010
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